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South Orange/Maplewood — Maplewood Top Stories

Swing into Summer with Maplewood’s 20-Piece Band, Swing Town

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

Friday, June 14, 2013 • 6:14pm

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Swing Town, Maplewood’s 20-piece big band, will be performing classics, as well as more obscure ditties at Highland Place/Crane's ,  5 Highland Pl. on Wednesday, June 19, at 8 p.m.

The 20 piece band is under the direction of Maplewood resident, Ben Williams. Swing Town has an extensive library of music, ranging from classic swing to modern jazz.

Williams, along with Susan Dillon, founded Maplewood Community Music (MCM), a community group based in Maplewood in 2003.  Swing Town is one of the four ensembles made up of volunteer musicians who perform throughout the year in Maplewood and its surrounding communities.

Swing Town is a classic big band set up with five saxophones, four trombones, four trumpets, guitar, bass, piano, drums, three vocalists – a female and two males. There is also a pianist who sings.

“We have a nice group sound,” said Williams.

Swing Town’s musicians are from all walks of life. “We have a couple lawyers, retired teachers, professionals, IT people … it’s a nice mix,” said Williams. “We have great attendance on the rehearsals. It makes my job easier and makes my job enjoyable.”

When people go to see Swing Town perform, they will hear recognizable music, like tunes from Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Chicago and Earth, Wind and Fire. “Mostly on the traditional swing side, but we keep it fresh,” said Williams.

Dillon, who is lead trombonist of Swing Town, decided to found Maplewood Community Music because something was lacking in her life.

“I had young children at home. I played trombone in college. I hadn’t played in many years. I had a need to do something for myself,” she said.

When Dillon heard Williams playing trombone in a quartet called Bones Incorporated, Dillon, who always loved jazz, said, “That’s what’s missing in my life.”

According to Dillon there were no community bands in town and she started one with Jim Buchanan who was a retired music educator. “He was part of the recreation department and director of arts. He created Maplewoodstock, the famous arts and music festival.”

Since most community bands are concert style, Dillon said, “We could do a swing band.” They put up posters around town to advertise for musicians. At first they got a few people and then grew. “We’ve had almost the same members for eight, nine, ten years,” she said. “We got the right instrumentation. It wasn’t like ten trombonists came in.”

For more information, visit: http://www.maplewoodcommunitymusic.org/

There is no cover charge to see Swing Town’s performance on Wednesday, June 19, 8 p.m. at Highland Place/Crane's, 5 Highland Pl. To make dinner reservations, call 973-763-3083.  Visit http://www.hpcranes.com.

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